The Clark County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the police officers involved in deaths of Abdul Hamlan, David Paul Gonzalez and Michael Chevalier in April 2011, acted reasonably and lawfully.
“While these were tragic events, the officers who dealt with David Paul Gonzalez and Michael Chevalier undoubtedly saved innocent lives,” District Attorney Steven Wolfson said. “Chevalier had already shot at police and was threatening to kill the woman he was holding hostage, and Gonzalez, an armed and dangerous killer, was speeding towards the Las Vegas Strip when officers stopped him. The officers are to be commended for their swift and decisive actions in both of these situations.”
Traditionally, officer-involved deaths were reviewed by a coroner’s inquest hearing, during which officers and witnesses provided public testimony in a courtroom setting. However, changes to the inquest procedures drew legal challenges that have stalled the process. The last coroner’s inquest hearing was held in September 2010, and there is currently a backlog of 19 cases. In light of this delay, Wolfson ordered reviews of these 19 cases. Wolfson has now released 11 reviews of officer-involved deaths.
“When law enforcement is involved in a deadly confrontation, the public deserves to find out what happened and why,” Wolfson said. “Public confidence in our police and justice system demands transparency.”
According to the reviews released today:
- On April 3, 2011, police responded to an apartment on the 2800 block of East Charleston Boulevard where Chevalier was assaulting a woman. When police arrived, they saw the injured woman and Chevalier, who had a gun. During the ensuing standoff, Chevalier shot at officers and threatened to kill himself and the woman. Early the next morning, police stormed the apartment. Chevalier shot at the officers and then, while using the woman as a shield, pointed his gun at an officer who then shot Chevalier.
- On April 11, 2011, police tried to pull over a vehicle on Flamingo Avenue near Cambridge Street because the vehicle’s rear tail light was not working. Instead of pulling over, the driver ran a red light and sped towards the Las Vegas Strip. Police intentionally spun the vehicle around near Swenson Street, and then the driver, Gonzalez, got out of the vehicle and shot at the officers who shot back, hitting Gonzalez. Police later learned that Gonzalez was in violation of his parole (he had been in prison for second-degree murder), and the gun he used was also used in a shooting three weeks earlier.
- On April 12, 2011, police were called to a home on the 3900 block of Grand Meadow Street because of a suicidal man with a gun. When police arrived they found Abdul Hamlan inside a garage, crying. He told the officers, “just go ahead and shoot me then,” before aiming his gun at the officers, who were telling him to drop the weapon. When he did not drop the gun, the officers shot him.
The determinations that the officer acted lawfully in these situations is based upon the evidence available at this time. The cases could be reexamined if new information comes to light. The full reviews are available on the District Attorney’s Web page. Subsequent reviews will also be posted on the Web page when they are completed.
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